When I was a full-time book printing buyer, I sometimes had projects where the publisher couldn’t make up their mind up about print specifications. Thinking that seeing pricing on all the possible options would help, they would request that I get quotes on them all. What would happen instead is that the decisions would get harder, not easier. Here’s why getting too many print quotes can be a bad idea.

Each change in specifications doubles the number of quotations that have to be produced: quoting a book both as a hardcover and as a paperback results in two quotes. If you then quote the hardcover and paperback at two different page sizes, that results in four quotes. This is all well and good, and maybe necessary, but let’s look at what happens if you add a few more variables, say two different paper stocks, an 8-page color insert, and shrink wrapping—five variables altogether. The number of resulting quotes is

2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 32 quotes

I submit to you that having 32 quotes in your hand—or for that matter 16, or 8—is not going to help you figure out what you want. Would it make it easier to choose gasoline if you had 32 options at the pump? If you are quoting all this at three printers, you have a certifiable paperwork nightmare on your hand: 3 x 32 = 96 quotes!

This is not a hypothetical issue—we see this on projects fairly frequently. An excessive number of quotes paralyzes decision-making, it does not aid it. The reality is that the nature of your book and the way you are selling it should narrow down your options before you even ask for quotes. Here are more posts in the Print Positive series on selecting different book printing options:

Selecting Paper
Selecting Page Size
Selecting Binding


How Making the Right Printing Choices Adds Value to Books